CVS carries Suboxone and similar medications, although availability may be limited in some areas.
Pharmacies are often very careful with how much of these types of medications they order and store, as well as how they’re dispensed, due to historically strict regulations of these medications and harsh penalties from the DEA for violating these regulations.
How Much Does Suboxone Cost at CVS?
The cost of Suboxone at CVS may vary depending on the deals they currently have, your location, the coupons available through GoodRx and whether you have a Suboxone savings card through the manufacturer.
Below, you’ll find a sample chart for the price of brand name and generic Suboxone at CVS, for both strips and tablets. Note: brand name Suboxone tablets have been discontinued by the manufacturer because of the risk to children swallowing them.
|Strips (1-month supply)
|Tablets (1-month supply)
|Suboxone (brand name)
**Sourced from GoodRx
Keep in mind, these are the out-of-pocket prices at CVS, according to GoodRx. If you have health insurance or cost assistance through a savings card, you will likely pay far less for your Suboxone prescription.
DEA Regulations on Medications
Since it became clear there was an opioid epidemic in the United States, regulators have been especially strict regarding any medication containing an opioid. While there is logic to many of these regulations, it also has unfortunately led to sometimes overly restricted access to medications for opioid use disorder, as two of the most effective drugs for this purpose, buprenorphine and methadone, are opioids.
Suboxone is one such relevant medication, as it is a combination of the drugs buprenorphine and the much less restricted naloxone. While the applicable policies are in reality from a combination of several organizations, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the DEA is historically associated with the most restrictive regulations.
Generally speaking, big pharmacy chains like CVS are able to fill valid Suboxone prescriptions. However, the DEA has also taken a fairly aggressive stance toward any behavior, well-intentioned or otherwise, by pharmacies that the DEA perceives as breaking opioid-related regulations.
There are many regulations in place relevant to the filling of prescriptions containing opioids, including medications for OUD. Some of the most noteworthy include the following:
- The need to be registered with the DEA to dispense controlled substances, with the provision that they can lose that registration if proven to be noncompliant with the DEA’s policies
- Strict controls over the amount of Suboxone and similar opioid medications a pharmacy can carry beyond the ordinary limits for carrying similarly dangerous prescription drugs
- Strict procedures regarding ordering, receiving deliveries of, and storing these types of medications beyond the ordinary rules for carrying similarly dangerous prescription drugs
- A need to keep careful records of all transfers of relevant medications
What Is the Impact of Regulations on Patients?
Whatever the intention, many experts believe strict regulations limit patient access to drugs like Suboxone. Many patients, especially those in rural areas, have trouble getting these drugs even if they have a legitimate prescription (and this is in addition to the difficulty many people with a legitimate need can have getting such a prescription, even when it would be appropriate to get one).
Many pharmacy locations may carry Suboxone and similar medications but in limited, careful supply. It is not uncommon that a pharmacy may not be able to immediately fill a legitimate Suboxone prescription even if they generally carry those types of medications.
What Does the Science Say About Regulating Medications?
Many experts view the strict regulations of medications for OUD as politically motivated rather than science motivated. The reality is that drugs that combine buprenorphine and naloxone, including Suboxone, have low misuse and addiction potential. Moreover, even strict regulations around methadone, which is a full opioid agonist, are often heavily criticized because both buprenorphine and methadone are generally shown by data to help more than harm.
To summarize a fairly substantial pool of evidence, these medications help people control their drug cravings and suppress withdrawal, improving addiction treatment outcomes. They help individuals struggling with OUD to go from misusing dangerous opioids more or less at random and often in very dangerous doses to using generally safer opioid medications on a strict regimen.
To put things into perspective, buprenorphine-based medications like Suboxone have an unusual distinction: most of their illicit use is to help people quit using dangerous opioids or to suppress difficult withdrawal symptoms, not to intentionally misuse drugs like Suboxone to get high. People who don’t have easy access to a legitimate Suboxone prescription and a way to fill it may turn to illegal methods to get their medication. While still illegal and often dangerous, this type of drug use is clearly different from the type of drug use that many associate with self-destructive acts of addiction. Increased access to Suboxone, including access at all CVS locations and prescribing the medication via telehealth services, will help these individuals to access the necessary medication without turning to illicit means.
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD
Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More
- Statutes, Regulations, and Guidelines. SAMHSA. https://www.samhsa.gov/medications-substance-use-disorders/statutes-regulations-guidelines. January 2023. Accessed March 2023.
- DEA Takes Aggressive Stance Toward Pharmacies Trying to Dispense Addiction Medicine. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/11/08/1053579556/dea-suboxone-subutex-pharmacies-addiction. November 2021. Accessed March 2023.
- Narcotic Treatment Program Manual. Drug Enforcement Administration. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/GDP/(DEA-DC-056)(EO-DEA169)_NTP_manual_Final.pdf. 2022. Accessed March 2023.
- Implications of Increased Access to Buprenorphine for Medical Providers in Rural Areas: A Review of the Literature and Future Directions: Cureus. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8712194/. November 2021. Accessed March 2023.
- Suboxone: Rationale, Science, Misconceptions. The Ochsner Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855417/. 2018. Accessed March 2023.
- Continuing Increased Access to Buprenorphine in the United States via Telemedicine After COVID-19. International Journal of Drug Policy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7428767/. July 2021. Accessed March 2023.
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